Carlos Sainz’s tactics in Singapore may have cost Mercedes a 1-2 result but Toto Wolff can only applaud the Ferrari driver for his “incredibly high level” of race management.
With Red Bull out of the running at the Marina Bay circuit as Max Verstappen experienced his worst weekend of the season, the question was who would be the driver to end the Dutchman’s winning streak.
It was a five-driver race for the victory, never mind just the podium, and when it came down to the last 10 laps there were four who were at times separated by less than three seconds.
‘Carlos Sainz was the man of the weekend’
Two of those drivers were Mercedes’ George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, both of whom had gambled by pitting under a Virtual Safety Car, losing track position but on 25-lap fresher tyres.
Closing the gap by just shy of two seconds per lap, Russell was third with Hamilton fourth heading into the final five laps with the teammates right on Lando Norris’ rear wing.
The McLaren driver in turn was on Sainz’s tail, the Ferrari driver deliberately keeping Norris within DRS to ensure he had the pace to defend against the Mercedes drivers.
Wolff was impressed with the Spaniard’s management.
“We actually never saw Carlos’ pace, he managed it so well and always brought Lando in,” he told Sky Deutschland. “It was at an incredibly high level.”
So too was Sky pundit Timo Glock who rates Sainz, who also grabbed pole position on Saturday, as his “man of the weekend”.
He added: “Right from the start, he always focused on the strategy, always knew what to do.
“He always kept the field so close together that Russell couldn’t do an undercut with a fresh tyre. They managed that very well and cleverly.
“It shows the momentum he has had since the summer break. Hats off to Carlos Sainz.”
Ferrari team boss applauds Sainz’s ‘impeccable’ management
Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur joined the round of applause for Sainz, adamant he wasn’t nervous watching his driver trying to hold off three protagonists as he always felt he was in control.
“Having Carlos so fast from the start of the weekend was very useful for the whole team,” Vasseur said as per Motorsport.com. “He did an excellent job from the first to the last lap, his management of the race was impeccable.”
“Honestly, it was a strange feeling. I wasn’t nervous, I had the feeling that Carlos was really controlling everything.”
Vasseur joined the Spaniard on the podium, his first time up there as a Formula 1 team boss.
“In the podium yes, there was a bit of emotion, in the end, it was still my first time,” said the 55-year-old.
“I thought about everything we did after Jeddah, I remember the difficulties of that weekend, the team reacted and I think we made an excellent recovery. A great team effort, I’m more than proud of everyone who works on the track and in Maranello.”